Magazine article VFW Magazine

A Christmas Message

Magazine article VFW Magazine

A Christmas Message

Article excerpt

Anyone who has worn a uniform overseas knows this is the most difficult time of year to he separated from family and friends.

" It is easy to say 'let us remember our troops' during the Christmas season, but how many of us really understand the painful nobility of this sacrifice?" Bruce Kluger asked in USA Today last Christmas. "For those on active duty in the Middle East, the business of battle knows no holiday."

I could not have possibly said it better. But this writer did not stop there. "Equally heartbreaking -and incomprehensible - is the wrenching vacuum that war inflicts on families on the home front," he wrote.

Christmas celebrations in Afghanistan and Iraq are, by necessity, subdued. More quality food, special church services and private thoughts of loved ones usually constitute this most beloved of holidays in the war zone. Yet these gestures never seem to be enough.

On Dec. 25, 2007, McClatchy News Service was one of the few media outlets to report on the troops directly from the field. At Patrol Base Warrior Keep in southwest Baghdad, two of its reporters interviewed soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, to sample their sentiments.

"If I didn't feel like this is where I needed to be, I think it'd be horrible," Chaplain Eric Light told them. "Our holidays are so tied to our families, it's nearly impossible to re-create them here."

What we can do as veterans is to remind those around us of the emotional importance of this time of year to the troops thousands of miles from home. …

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